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Archive for September 8th, 2010

This is the handout for my workshop on personal interviews. I used to do this workshop quite often, but haven’t done it for a couple years. The handout was originally posted at No Train, No Gain. I am posting some of my NTNG handouts here, with some updating, because NTNG is no longer online.

Narrative writing grows from narrative reporting. The foundation of any narrative is the writer’s authoritative knowledge of what happened. Some of the most powerful narrative stories require special care in finding sources and arranging and conducting interviews. Narrative is a powerful way to tell stories in writing as well as in multimedia and especially in packages that use both effectively.

Some of the best narrative stories come from deeply personal stories that often are difficult to tell. Many people are especially reluctant to tell the compelling stories of such intimate or traumatic personal matters as rape, abortion, domestic violence, incest, faith, sexual orientation, bigotry, illness, betrayal, crime, divorce, corruption, family stress, war, disaster, immigration, substance abuse or the death of a loved one. These stories present obstacles, but they are not insurmountable. The challenges tend to fall in four areas: getting the interview, conducting a successful interview, collecting narrative material and telling the story. (more…)

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I hope this blog post is premature. I would love to retract it tomorrow as an error, but it appears to me that No Train, No Gain is dead. The website launched 10 years ago, so it lived a long life in Internet years. But I mourn nonetheless.

I got involved in newsroom training as a sidelight in 1997, and after I added it to my official duties with a 1998 move to the Des Moines Register, I joined a listserv for newsroom trainers, Newscoach. The group, which never formed an official association, met annually at the old West Coast office of the Freedom Forum in San Francisco, under the leadership of the late Bev Kees. I can’t remember if I was aware of the 1999 conference. I very much wanted to attend the 2000 conference, but it met just as I was changing jobs from the Register to the Omaha World-Herald. While I negotiated for the World-Herald to send me to the conferences every other year, I couldn’t go that first year, because the conference fell right before I moved. (more…)

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